Thursday, January 14, 2010

Contra Not So Revolutionary

It's no surprise really that Vampire Weekend's second effort, Contra, is anything but revolutionary. At times, it has all the pop elements and trappings of a fine record, but other times it strays into the world of "We want to be Paul Simon REALLY bad" territory, which is a bit labored. There also seems to be a track that uses auto tune? Anyway, let's get to the matter here: Vampire Weekend is not anything to write home about, as per usual, but they can still write a decently catchy song. The lead of track and second single, "Horchata" shows that the band does have some room to grow bringing in new sounds like marimbas and more synths taking place of the jangly guitars from the first record. To me, that has it's ups and downs. What I loved most about songs like "A-Punk" or "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" were the interesting guitar arrangements. The track "Holiday" most replicates this sound, but without going further. If these Ivy League boys wanted to, they could probably shred some sweet rock music. The first single "Cousins" is a raging rocker buried under this polished sound. It has the most redeeming elements, with hyper-kinetic drums and super fast guitar theatrics. After that, everything else seems to be trying to hard. Every song sounds like it's purposely supposed to sound islandy or Carribean. There really is not sense of self on the record. "California English" is a laughable track with it's unnecessary use of the awful auto tune effect. It adds no depth to the music or the lyrics and if anything it's a detraction. There are many decent moments on Contra, but they are overshadowed by the weaker tracks. With a little more guitars upfront in the mix, Vampire Weekend could have tapped into something spectacular. Instead, we got a failed experiment of sorts and an album stretching for direction. I guarantee, as many other publications have already proved, that this album will launch the band for some reason into a sort of limelight that any indie band could achieve, but there is not much left to enjoy on the record. Oh, and did I mention that the album art really annoys me?

1 comment:

Nathan said...

Aw! Come on! I like the album art! That preppy girl, she looks so...detached! And I like Contra, too, as you no doubt know.

Although, i can jive to your "no sense of self" argument.